Image1_Aging and the Prevalence of Polypharmacy and Hyper-Polypharmacy Among Older Adults in South Korea: A National Retrospective Study During 2010–2019.JPEG
Background: Polypharmacy has become a global health problem and is associated with adverse health outcomes in the elderly. This study evaluated the prevalence of polypharmacy and hyper-polypharmacy in elderly patients in South Korea during 2010–2019.
Methods: We analyzed the outpatient care of persons aged ≥65 years covered by National Health Insurance (NHI) using NHI claims data from 2010 to 2019. Polypharmacy was defined as the use of ≥5 medications, and hyper-polypharmacy was defined as the use of ≥10 medications, and we examined them over periods of ≥90 days and ≥180 days. The average annual percent change (AAPC) was calculated using Joinpoint statistical software.
Results: The prevalence of polypharmacy among ≥90 days of medication use elderly decreased from 42.5% in 2010 to 41.8% in 2019, and the prevalence of hyper-polypharmacy for ≥90 days increased from 10.4% to 14.4%. The prevalence of polypharmacy for ≥180 days increased from 37.8% in 2010 to 38.1% in 2019, and the prevalence of hyper-polypharmacy for ≥180 days increased from 6.4% to 9.4%. The prevalence of polypharmacy for ≥90 days and ≥180 days steadily increased among elderly patients, with AAPCs of 3.7 and 4.5, respectively.
Conclusion: The prevalence of polypharmacy for ≥90 days and ≥180 days remained stably high, with rates of about 42 and 38%, respectively, and hyper-polypharmacy increased over the past 10 years in South Korea. Therefore, strategies to address polypharmacy need to be implemented. Further research is also required to identify the clinical outcomes (including mortality risks) associated with polypharmacy.